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Hi,

This is my first post! I would like to thank anybody who offers their advice in advance. Our dog recently bit our 8 month old baby just above the eye (if it were any lower at all it would have been his eye). The injury bleed and was bad enough that we took him to the doctor to have it checked out (no stiches were required, just antibiotics). It left 3 small puncture wounds. Our baby was simply crawling over toward my wife while the dog was in her lap and he snapped at the baby. This was the first time that he has bit the baby, but he has growled at him a couple of times in the past when he thought the baby was getting too close to some potential food crumbs.

The dog is a Miniature Pincher who is approximately six years old and has been in our family for about 5 years now. We adopted him from a Min Pin rescue group. He has always been very excitable, and sometimes aggressive. He has bit several friends and extended family members (I can think of 6 off the top of my head). Several times he has actually drawn blood. Usually, he is being protective (or possessive?) of my wife and he kind of snaps at people when this happens. One time he relentlessly went after my wife's uncle and was very scary and aggressive. The dog just came into the room and went after him without warning. He also gets nervous and continuously barks at people when they come over to our house, unless they are brave enough to make an effort to make friends with him. If we lock him in another room, he will bark nonstop until they leave. He also acts the same way toward other dogs. He barks most dogs and other people that he sees when we take him on walks. He listens pretty well when it is just my wife and I (and our baby), but when somebody new is around he is so excited and nervous acting that he simply can't hear us.

We have tried a series of training classes, all the advice we could find in books and online, a spray collar, veterinarian prescribed medication to calm him, and everything else that you could dream of. We thought he would mellow out as he aged, but if anything his aggressive behavior seems to be getting worse.

From a rational perspective, it is obvious that we should get rid of our dog and find a more suitable home for him (i.e. one without young children). However, we see our dog as a member of our family (although, we do not pretend our dog is another person...he is our beloved dog). My wife especially is having a very difficult time thinking about giving our dog away. Is there any hope that we can successfully train our dog, or is this just who he is? To complicate matters, we have a small house and we are having to keep our dog locked up for the most part right now to keep our baby safe. This would make it very difficult to train our dog when he is locked up most of the time.

Thanks again for your advice!


Wildcat
 

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Honestly, you need a certified behaviorist or veterinary behaviorist if you want to try to keep this dog. I don't think it would be responsible for you to take advice from people off the internet, and I don't think it would be responsible to give advice without seeing what is going on, taking a full history and observing the dog. Rehoming a dog who has drawn blood on a number of people is also concerning.
 

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Whatever you do, you MUST keep your dog and child separated.

How often and for how long are you walking the dog daily?

Maybe consider a basket muzzle when the dog is in the room with you and your baby, (But still try to keep baby away from dog...muzzle is there as a backup).
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Pawzk9 - I appreciate the advice that you did give me about the certified behaviorist etc. Asking for advice on the internet is not the same as acting on it. We are in a difficult situation and we are trying to look for all possible options before giving up our dog or putting our son in danger.

spotted nikes - I agree about keeping the two seperated. My wife did at first, but I am noticing that she is letting her guard down more and more as time goes on and the initial scare wears off. We are not walking him much right now. It is difficult because he gets too excited to listen when he is on walks and he barks at people and dogs. It's another situation that could potentially be bad if, for example, he bites a kid that tries to come up and pet him. Plus, it is winter and there is little daylight left when we get home from work.
 

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I am always concerned when people have a "list" of people their dog has bitten. I can somewhat understand the first bite, but all of the rest of the bites are the responsibilty of the dog owner. Once you know that you have a dog that bites, it's your job, as the owner, to manage your dog in a way that the second bite never happens.

If you have not been able to manage your dog away from biting, I would contact the rescue that you adopted your dog from and return your dog to them with full disclosure. Then, where to go from there is up to them. Did your adoption agreement require the return of the dog if you aren't able to keep him?

Your dog absolutely will bite your child again. Once your child is walking, your dog will be MORE likely to bite, not less. This doesn't seem like a manageable situation.
 

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It sounds very much like your dog is resource guarding your wife (and his food). This behavior can be managed, but it takes a lot of time, training and careful management. I agree that you should speak to a behaviorist (not just a dog trainer, but an actual behaviorist -- please stay away from anyone who would suggest an electric collar or any other method of actually punishing the dog for snapping, which could make things much worse). After speaking to a behaviorist, you should have a much better idea of whether or not you can handle the commitment involved in rehabilitating a resource guarder. You might also want to pick up this book in addition to talking to someone.
 

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You've had the dog for 6 years, in that time it has seriously bitten at least half a dozen people and now it has bitten your child. Get rid of the dog. If you didn't do anything about the biting the first 6 times, I don't think you're going to be capable of doing anything about it now. I don't say this lightly, but your child nearly lost her eye. What more do you need?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
OK, so here is the thing...I realize that the right decision is to find another home for the dog. While we are attempting to train our dog to do better (as we have over and over for the past 5 years), our son is at risk for another attack. We love our dog, but our son comes first. I don't see how it will be possible to put our dog in situations where he is able to progress, while also keeping our son safe. The time to train him was before we had a baby.

The problem is that my wife is having second thoughts about finding a new home for our dog. First of all it is difficult to kick out a member of our family and she fears that somebody else will end up putting him to sleep. She is a very compassionate person and she is thinking with her heart instead of her head. How do I help my wife to realize what I am already able to see? I don't think she will be able to give up on our dog until there is no hope for him. I don't know what greater warning we could possibly have than our son almost losing his eye.
 

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If a facial bite to your helpless son did not serve as a wake up call, I can't think of any words that might move her past this.

Buy a crate or a dog playpen and never let this dog near your son. If your dog is cool with being confined whenever your son isn't sleeping in his crib, maybe you can manage along until you wife sees how unworkable it all is.

This may sound nuts, but is she type of person who is more comfortable with re-homing or euthanasia? Some people can't tolerate the thought of their dog bouncing around alive unprotected. Others deplore euthanasia on a deep level. Figure out which route is more acceptable to your wife and then start building towards that.

I would still look and see if your adoption contract has anything to say about this.
 

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It sounds very much like your dog is resource guarding your wife (and his food). This behavior can be managed, but it takes a lot of time, training and careful management. >>>>>

I have a resource guarder that bit my child in the face. my advantage in management is that my children are older, still its a lot of work. besides a lot of training management has to become part of your lifestyle. If the dog/child are to intermingle it must be controled and never testing the dog in a situation that he may bite/guard. esp w a child that young
 

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As much as you love your dog, I cannot see why your wife cannot see the danger. Unless you keep your dog permanently locked up (which is not fair to the dog) I can only see another accident happening. Knowing what you do about the dog how can you put your baby at risk? The next time it could be the last even though it is a small dog, a bite in the right place could kill your son.

The time to have done something about it was after the first bite, not now when your son is at risk.
 

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The problem is that my wife is having second thoughts about finding a new home for our dog. First of all it is difficult to kick out a member of our family and she fears that somebody else will end up putting him to sleep. She is a very compassionate person and she is thinking with her heart instead of her head. How do I help my wife to realize what I am already able to see? I don't think she will be able to give up on our dog until there is no hope for him. I don't know what greater warning we could possibly have than our son almost losing his eye.
This is where you get real professional help and listen to them. If a behaviorist tells your wife it is not safe to keep the dog, she may believe the professional more than she will believe a spouse. As you have mentioned, as you get further from the event, the tendency is to get a little less careful. Which you say is already happening. I won't recommend PTS for a dog I haven't seen and don't know all details. However a dog who has bitten seven people (including a baby on the face) and drawn blood repeatedly is not a great candidate for rehoming. I agree with contact the rescue. They may well decide to euthanize him, because that would be a responsible choice rather than allowing him to do more damage.
 

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You've had the dog for 6 years, in that time it has seriously bitten at least half a dozen people and now it has bitten your child. Get rid of the dog. If you didn't do anything about the biting the first 6 times, I don't think you're going to be capable of doing anything about it now. I don't say this lightly, but your child nearly lost her eye. What more do you need?
thanks for saving me my typing. I agree.
 

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OK, so here is the thing...I realize that the right decision is to find another home for the dog.
Where would you find a home? If you're honest, no one in their right mind would take this dog, with a many bite history. If you take it to the shelter, you MUST be honest (you must be honest no matter where you try to take the dog), because he is a liability. I doubt a shelter would even take him, if they did, the likelihood he would be put to sleep is great. Your son should come first but you dropped the ball, over the last five years.
 

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...but you dropped the ball, over the last five years.
Obviously we, as the owners of our dog, have to accept some responibility. It's not that we just sat by and watch our dog get worse for the last five years though. We inherited a dog with issues and we put in a great deal of time and effort in trying to make things better.

I used to think that all owners who had dogs that they couldn't control were to blame as well, until we adopted this dog. Based on his behavior toward certain individuals verses others, we are pretty sure that the dog was abused by a male at some point before we adopted him. We have tried to do our best, and in hindsite I wish we had done more. It's a very sad situation, but you don't fully understand the situation until you have lived it.
 

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I am sorry for your family but I have to say I could never keep a dog that bit more than once. I am not even sure I could keep one that bit only once. You have a difficult decision to make but in my book your child's safety would come first. Good luck and hugs.
 

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I would still look and see if your adoption contract has anything to say about this.
We did contact the group that we adopted the dog from the day that the dog bit our son. Initially, they thought they had three potential families for him, but all of the sudden they told us that they may not be able to help after all and that is the last thing that we have heard from them.
 

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At this point, the dog is a liability. If you were to find him a new home, you'd need the new owners to sign a waver saying that they wouldn't sue you if he bites again and inflicts damage. No rescue group can take him, because they will be liable if they adopt him out and he bites again. So where does that leave you?

Option A: Keep the dog, consult a behaviorist, work hard on his issues, exercise him, and keep him away from the baby. It will only get worse as the baby becomes a toddler and wants to interact with the dog.
Option B: Euthanasia.

Neither choice is great. I don't envy you.
 

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Obviously we, as the owners of our dog, have to accept some responibility. It's not that we just sat by and watch our dog get worse for the last five years though. We inherited a dog with issues and we put in a great deal of time and effort in trying to make things better.

I used to think that all owners who had dogs that they couldn't control were to blame as well, until we adopted this dog. Based on his behavior toward certain individuals verses others, we are pretty sure that the dog was abused by a male at some point before we adopted him. We have tried to do our best, and in hindsite I wish we had done more. It's a very sad situation, but you don't fully understand the situation until you have lived it.
You're right, I may not fully understand but as someone with two 3yr old grandaughters and a grandson on the way in two mos, a dog who has bit many people since I had him, including my young child and in the face, that's really all I have to understand. If this was my dog, he would either be living with a trainer or behaviorist, if one would even take him on, or residing in heaven. For ME, I couldn't have this dog in my home with a child, esp one he already bit in the face.
 

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We did contact the group that we adopted the dog from the day that the dog bit our son. Initially, they thought they had three potential families for him, but all of the sudden they told us that they may not be able to help after all and that is the last thing that we have heard from them.
Of course you haven't heard from them, not many places are going to take on a dog with a known bite history. Would you willingly take in a dog with one?
 
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